Elementary News and Updates (09/22/23)

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Director's Updates

A message from Mrs. McElroy, Elementary School Director

Dear Elementary School Families,

September has been such a wonderful month of learning. Our students have settled into their classroom routines, and it has been so wonderful going into all the classes to see the students so engaged in their academics. Moving into October, we will be focusing on kindness and how to be a good friend. Please be on the lookout for communication on activities planned for this month.

Attendance Awareness

September marks Attendance Awareness Month. One of STEM’s goals this year is to provide extraordinary student experiences by making student attendance a priority. Regular attendance is a key factor in your student’s academic progress and overall growth. Across Colorado and the country, student chronic absenteeism is on the rise.
Chronic absenteeism means missing 10 percent or more of the total enrolled days during the school year for any reason. It includes excused, unexcused, out-of-school suspensions, and in-school suspensions that last more than half the school day. Colorado ranks sixth with the highest absenteeism rate in the country. Tardies also impact student learning both socially and academically. Being tardy can also increase student anxiety about coming to school.

Why Does Attendance Matter?

  • Research demonstrates a strong connection between student attendance and academic performance.
  • Regular attendance allows students to establish and nurture relationships.
  • Students who get to school each day have a better chance of learning and succeeding.
  • Research shows that students who miss two days of school per month can struggle with reading, and this may lead to social-emotional stress.
  • When your student misses school, they also lose valuable learning time can fall behind in their school work, and as a result, it’s difficult to catch up.
  • Students chronically absent in kindergarten and 1st grade are much less likely to read at grade level by the end of 3rd grade.
  • By 6th grade, chronic absence is a proven early warning sign for students at risk for dropping out of school.
  • By 9th grade, good attendance can predict graduation rates even better than 8th-grade test scores.

We understand some absences are unavoidable due to illness or family emergencies. Still, we also know that students who miss too much school, even occasionally, can fall behind academically or socially.

Here are a few helpful tips to help support regular, on-time attendance:

  • Make sure your student is getting enough sleep.
  • Limit the use of electronic devices in the bedroom.
  • Set out clothes and backpacks the night before so your student is ready to go in the morning.
  • Establish a set morning routine to support getting out the door on time.
  • Only keep your student home if they are truly sick.
    • Keep in mind complaints of a stomach ache or headache can be a sign of anxiety and not a reason to stay home. If your student is experiencing anxiety about school, let us know so we can offer additional support to them.
  • Talk to your student’s teacher, school staff, or other parents in the community about what has worked for them to motivate their students to attend school.
  • Limit extended travel to naturally occurring school breaks.
  • Avoid scheduling vacations and doctor’s appointments when school is in session.
  • Have a backup plan for unexpected situations.

October Count

Speaking of attendance, the October count window opens September 25th and closes October 9th, with our official count day being October 2nd. For those families who are new to the education syhttps://stem, the October count is where DCSD and the Colorado Department of Education determine our official enrollment and then provide the school with our funding for the year. This funding is what STEM uses to pay teacher salaries, classroom and curriculum needs, and the operations of our facility. Student attendance between Sept 25th and Oct 9th is critical, specifically October 2nd, as that is our official student count day. We ask that during this two-week window, you limit off-campus appointments and travel so we can accurately report our attendance to the state. If you want more information on how Colorado funds its schools, please visit the CDE website.

Parent-Teacher Conferences

Parent-teacher conferences are around the corner. They will be held the week of October 9th -13th. Conferences are an opportunity to discuss your student’s academic progress and address any concerns with the teacher. Please be on the lookout for communication directly from your student’s teacher in the upcoming weeks

Lost and Found

Our lost and found is beginning to fill up, and each year, we donate hundreds of dollars worth of clothing and other lost items. Please help us return lost items to their owners by writing your child’s name on their items such as lunchboxes, water bottles, hoodies/sweatshirts and coats.

Important Dates:

  • September 25 – October 9 – October Count Window
  • September 28 – PTO Blast Off
  • October 2 – October Count Day
  • October 5 – PTO Bubble Run
  • October 6 – Picture Retakes
  • October 9-13 – Parent Teacher Conferences
  • October 16-20 – Fall Break

Have a wonderful weekend. Please reach out if you have any questions or concerns.

In Partnership,

Amie McElroy, Elementary Director

Upcoming Events

STEM All-Events Calendar

Please take a moment to check the STEM All-Events Calendar on our website.

There are lots of events already scheduled so please take a moment to take a look at the calendar to familiarize yourself with some of the events at the start of school. This calendar will continue to be updated throughout the summer as we get closer to the start of school.

STEM Unicef - Remember the Embers Maui Fundraiser

September 25-29 – Afternoon Driveline

The STEM Unicef Club will be collecting donations during driveline each afternoon during the week of September 25-29 to raise money for the Maui Fires. Click the button below to donate to STEM’s Go Fund Me campaign.

September 27, from 4-7 p.m. – Secondary Gym

STEM Unicef will be hosting a 3×3 Basketball Tournament in the Secondary Gym to raise money for the Maui Wildfires. Email nancy.szczekocki@https://stemk12.org or omar.rahin@s.https://stemk12.org with any questions.

Academic Advisement Committee Meeting

Tuesday, Sept. 26, from 3:30-5 p.m. – Mechatronics Lab/P-TECH Building

The Academic Advisement Committee will hold its first meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 26, from 3:30-5 p.m., in the Mechatronics Lab of the KOSON/P-TECH Building. The goal of this committee is to provide feedback and suggestions for School Leadership in regard to academics and our curricular resources. If you have any questions, please contact michelle.gasser@https://stemk12.org.

STEM Blast Off 2023
STEM TSA Cookies and Cocoa Flier (Social Square)

News and Updates

Join the Academic Advisement Committee

The Academic Advisement Committee is looking for parent, student, and teacher members for the 2023-24 school year. The goal of this committee is to provide feedback and suggestions for School Leadership in regard to academics and our curricular resources. Our first meeting will be on Tuesday, Sept. 26, from 3:30-5 p.m. in the KOSON Building.
This year, our focus will be on the following:

  • Elementary math curriculum
  • Concurrent Enrollment Credits
  • Course Proposals for secondary
  • Updating our academic planning guide

If you want to join this advisory committee, please complete this form by Wednesday, Sept. 20. If you have any questions, please contact michelle.gasser@https://stemk12.org.

Update about printed School Photos

If you ordered school photos and selected to have them delivered to the school, you should start to receive them next week. Our photographer has indicated that we should receive them next week. It will then take us a day to distribute them to the appropriate teachers. Thank you for your patience.

Standards-Based Learning and Mastery Connect Update

A message from Mrs. Gasser, Director of Curriculum and Instruction

Now that the school year is well underway, we want to share a bit about where we are with Standards-Based Learning and MasteryConnect. Our Teacher Support Team has been working with our staff on aligning instruction to standards, especially with the release of new 2022 State Standards. Additionally, our teachers have been analyzing data to align units better and ensure that we have data-informed instruction for our students.

Teachers have also been utilizing MasteryConnect K-12 and have been working with students to understand better what their grade represents. In secondary, Access teachers have had class lessons on how to understand MasteryConnect, how to access the grading for each class, and how to determine which lessons still need to be submitted or need to be redone.

All classes K-12 should have at least 1 grade in each subject area, not for each standard. Please make sure to log into Canvas to view your student’s MasteryTracker. The parent portal is very cumbersome. It is suggested that you log into your student’s account and view MasteryTracker in that way.

DCSD News and Updates

Alliance Invitation

DCSD Board Unanimously Approves MLO/Bond for Ballot

On Tuesday, the DCSD Board of Education voted unanimously to place a $66M Mill Levy Override and $484M Bond on the November 2023 ballot (see the press release). All seven Board directors expressed their strong support and personal dedication to our students and our staff. During public comment the Board heard from students, teachers, neighborhood school principals, charter school principals, business leaders, elected officials and more – and all expressed strong support for additional funding. I hope you will take a few minutes to listen to the public comment – the support for YOU, our teachers and staff, from every part of our community was overwhelming.

  • Click here to watch the public comment portion of the meeting.
  • Click here to watch our presentation to the Board where we outlined staff recommendations for a Mill Levy Override and Bond.

The Board also unanimously adopted a compensation resolution that will automatically trigger if the MLO passes. For school district staff, this means pay increases would happen automatically should the MLO pass (with increases being paid retroactively back to July 1). For charter school staff, exact details about pay increases will come from your school’s board and leadership.

To learn more about how additional funding would benefit our schools and our staff, visit www.dcsdk12.org/funding. I also encourage you to read through our MLO/Bond plan.

B.A.S.E at STEM is hiring!

We are looking for 2 Program Leaders to work in a busy and fun after-school program. If you or someone you know likes working with kids, has some experience working with children ages 5-12, and is eager to develop and learn new skills in a growing program with a fun, experienced, and dedicated staff, this is the right move for you. Program Leader hours are M-F, 1:30-5:30/6 p.m. Part-time and full-time hours are available during school breaks. This position is a “Select Charter Position” and offers an additional 10% (to hourly base rate) monthly stipend. If you are interested but need more flexibility, we are hiring Program Leader substitutes. Substitutes can work 2-3 days each week. We are also happy to coordinate with STEM who are looking for more hours. Feel free to call or email me for more details or questions at amy.dupays@dcsdk12.org, or (720) 688-2928.

Mental Health Resource

Signs of Suicide (SOS) for Parents and Caregivers

When teens are struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide, it is common for them to turn to each other. This is why it’s important for every student to know when to ACT. 1) Acknowledge signs of suicide, 2) show their friends they Care, and 3) Tell a trusted adult.

Literacy Resource

Experience Dyslexia(R) Simulation, Hosted by DCKID

Wednesday, Sept. 27, from 6:30-7:30 p.m. – Castle Pines Library

This hands-on simulation session lets participants experience some of the challenges and frustrations faced by people with language-based learning differences. Participants will be guided through different learning tasks commonly encountered in the classroom or workplace, including reading comprehension, fluency, writing, spelling, listening, and processing speed.

Health and Wellness Resource

Concussion Awareness Day

September 15th is Concussion Awareness Day. It is an opportunity for school professionals, community members, families, and peers to raise awareness around the signs, symptoms, and implications of concussions to foster discussions and plan support.

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